Here's my entry from the Halloween contest. Comments and constructive criticism are always appreciated!
“They won’t catch us.”
Mandy smirks, carefully placing devil horns on her straight blonde hair. Dan pulls on an old tracksuit over his skeleton costume. I’m the only one who isn’t getting dressed up.
I’m already terrified and this hasn’t even started yet.
No. No, I’m not. I’ll never be ready. I just don’t have the balls to stand up to you, Mandy…
She wouldn’t even hear me. She stands up, red dress glittering and white teeth shining mischievously;
the others all roar approval back at her. I ask myself what I’m doing here but I know, really. If I chickened out, she’d sure as hell make sure I was never accepted in this town again.
I wish I was Mandy sometimes, with all that confidence and pretty face. Everyone loves her. There’s not much to like about plain, chubby old me… I know I’m only in this group because of Jake, my old elementary school friend.
We all pile out of her room and down the stairs. The lounge reeks of pot. Her parents wouldn’t notice anything even if she wasn’t allowed to do this.
I shiver, the first one out of the door. It’s so cold, so dark already… and immediately my eyes fall on the poster. There’s at least two on every street.
Join us in the square for the October Carnival!
I wish that was all it said… but that’s just the small print at the top.
Disrespecting this date by celebrating Halloween is strictly forbidden. All offenders will be prosecuted.
As if nobody knows. This tiny town was only alerted to this damn Halloween thing because of the nearest city. It’s never been acceptable here, and I’ve never even considered getting involved. The posters were only put up because of what happened last year. Some drunk guys in costumes who stumbled into the carnival were shot on sight. Everyone knows what happens to the offenders, but that was the first time it was so public.
I was there. We were there. I can still hear the gunshots ringing in my ears. Oh God, what are we doing? The poster glares at me and I can’t help blurting out my thoughts.
“This is ridiculous. Think of those guys. We’re asking to get killed.”
Mandy sniggers. “Don’t be such a pussy. Unless we were stupid enough to show up at the carnival like this, we’re not going to get caught. Do the posters scare poor baby Emily?”
Everyone hoots with laughter. I want to scream at them that they’re all stupid and go home… but she’s right, I’m a pussy. I don’t have the courage.
We scurry through the dark streets, down to the shacks that make up the small town’s outskirts. We’re headed for the Halloween party. Mandy’s talked about this for years… and now we’re finally old enough to attend. I should have known she meant it.
Everything about this reeks of danger. Music is blasting out from the shack; the lights are blazing. Mandy’s grinning. I guess this is just a thrill for her.
The sweaty room is crammed full of people in costumes, the air stuffy from the lit Jack-o-Lanterns. Everyone seems to be drunk already. I’m completely out of place.
Mandy heads straight for the dancefloor. It’s not long before she’s intoxicated too, making out with some guy in a corner.
“Emily? What are you doing over there?”
It’s Jake. He’s holding two glasses; he thrusts one in my face. I can’t… but can I really say no? Maybe it’ll relax me. My hands trembling a little, I take it and knock it back.
Ugh. It tastes disgusting. Jake drunkenly drags me onto the dancefloor, but there’s hardly any room to dance even if I could. We’re just two more people crammed into a suffocating mass of sweaty bodies.
I end up with another glass… then a third. This awful room, the deafening music is better when it’s a blur.
In a drunken haze I’m beginning to realise that I hardly know Jake anymore. When we stumble into the bathroom, he hands me something worse than alcohol. Cocaine. The little blond boy from elementary school doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t belong here… at all.
Yet I am here. I could run away from Jake but I’d be too scared out there without him, let alone too drunk to run. It’s the last time I ask myself what I’m doing… before I throw all my senses away to some grains of white powder.
The party’s over. My head is spinning and my legs are reduced to pathetically stumbling. I feel sick. All I’ve got to do now is get home… then this nightmare will be over.
Or so I thought.
Mandy’s giggling, clinging onto the guy she made out with. Is it the same one or a different one? Can’t tell.
“Don’t worry.” she slurs. “Party’s not over yet.”
No. No… I try to run but I trip and fall. I think it’s Jake who hauls me back onto my feet. I can’t walk properly anymore… he says he’ll take care of me. Thank God. He’ll take me home.
We stumble through pitch black roads, Jake supporting me. He reeks of alcohol and sweat… or is that me? All I know right now is that I’m so relieved this is over.
I look up and blink wearily at my surroundings. I don’t recognize these streets at all.
Jake isn’t taking me home.
Of course he’s not. Mandy and the others are still here, staggering along in front of us. He’s just following them, supporting his pathetic little friend.
My senses are all dulled yet my heart is pounding so hard I feel like it’ll explode. I trip again, landing on my stomach… I didn’t see the steps. I think Jake is going to leave me until he carelessly drags me up the steps after him. Where are we going? The next thing I know, I’m on the floor in some other cramped room. The fire lit in the middle is burning up all the oxygen. I can hardly breathe.
It’s that guy’s flat, the one Mandy’s with. Not that it matters. It’s a nightmare wherever it is. Eventually I sit up, curl up in a corner. Nobody notices. The stone floor here is so cold…
There’s a commotion outside. A door slams. I realise that I must have sobered up a bit; I look around. Jake has passed out, a heap on the floor with Dan. Mandy is making out with that guy again. All she’s still wearing is her underwear.
The commotion seems to be getting louder and louder. I suppose this area is probably full of crime and stuff…
Suddenly the door bursts open. A group of uniformed men pile in.
It’s the police.
One of them glances down at the floor. Under his foot is Mandy’s discarded red dress, her devil horns.
There’s no excuse, no escape.
It’s Mandy who goes first. Jake leaps to his feet and tries to run, but another gunshot echoes and he’s just a slumped body on the floor. I watch my “friends” fall, one by one. Then the one who stood on the dress turns to me.
Stupid me, drunk and stoned, glasses lopsided and clothes ripped in some filthy flat. For some cocaine, vodka and Mandy’s approval, I’m going to lose my life. Happy Halloween.
He pulls the trigger.
Even if you think my writing's shit, I want to know! I can't improve if I don't know what I'm doing wrong. So if you have any thoughts, please don't be afraid to share them.